Australians are accustomed to making use of the great outdoors. It’s where we want to spend our summer days and balmy nights; where we socialise, retreat to, and relax.
Across a diverse landscape, Australian homes differ greatly. But whether we’ve got a sprawling lawn, a shady courtyard or a minimalist balcony, it’s important for us to feel connected with nature – to make it an extension of our home.
This is a core belief of Gordon and Susan Tait, the managing and creative directors of Australian outdoor furniture company, Tait. Since establishing the brand in 1992 they’ve dedicated nearly 25 years to designing furniture that is sympathetic to, and able to withstand, the often-harsh Australian climate.
“What we’ve found is Australians are really relaxed with their furniture,” says Susan Tait. “We lounge and lie all over it and love sitting around for hours until the evening.”
Here’s Tait’s tips for creating a great outdoor space at home
Environment determines materials
Susan says there are many factors to consider when designing the perfect outdoor space for your home. But it begins with one question: “What’s the physical environment like?”
That question helps determine the material choices of the intended furniture, and takes into account elements such as timber versus stainless steel, and factors such as sun, shade rain and sea spray.
“Corrosion resistance has been a big focus of ours and it’s something we’re constantly trying and testing,” says Gordon Tait. “We recommend using stainless steel, such as in our Tidal collection, for both coastal and desert environments.”
Choose your timber carefully
Another thing to watch out for is choosing the right timber to match the level of maintenance you’re prepared to do. “You have to consider the time and labour you’re willing to put in to prevent it from weathering,” says Gordon.
How will the space be used?
Once those material choices are clear, attention shifts to the intended use of your outdoor space.
“You’ve really got to ask yourself, ‘How do I want to enjoy the space?” says Susan. “Will I regularly be having friends and family members over? Or perhaps the space will be better as a quiet spot to read the paper with coffee?”
It’s easy to get carried away with drumming up grand ideas. But Susan says it’s important to stay realistic in order to benefit most from the space you have. “Rather than choosing a big dining table to entertain large groups, perhaps it’s a smarter move to go for a couple of stools,” she says. “Then you can move them around and have some lounge furniture for everyday use.”
Aesthetics and colour can help
If you’ve only got a small outdoor space to work with, one good tip is to opt for aesthetically lighter furniture. “Our wire-frame collections really help to visually lessen the impact of a full space,” says Susan.
Colour plays a part, too. Choosing dark tones diverts attention to the surrounding landscape. “We suggest being conservative with your choice of colours,” says Susan. “That way you can have fun with interchangeable items such as cushions and plants.”
All in all Tait. believes what ultimately makes a successful outdoor space is considered choices. “Select the right materials and furniture to last so you’re not working on it,” she says. “You want to be enjoying it.”
This article is presented in partnership with Mercedes-Benz. See the outdoor design finalists for the Mercedes-Benz Design Awards here.